“Of all things, love is the most potent.”
– Maria Montessori
Today, we're sharing our preschooler's experience with making penguin art using a Montessori puzzle, some watercolor pencils, and watercolor paper.
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Some Art Background
When I was a pre-teen, I would schedule my monthly orthodontia appointments so they’d fall during Art class. True Story. I’d rather get my teeth straightened than sit and listen to Art instruction. I’m sure my mom was cracking up every time I stood at the receptionist’s desk and rescheduled for the same time next month.
When I was in high school, I doubled up on my science course load for a year. I chose to take Astronomy, as well as Anatomy & Physiology, just so I could opt out of Art completely.
Looking back, I now know it was the method and implementation of the curriculum I had been exposed to that left me disinterested in the subject. 90% of the time we used pencils, scissors, copy or construction paper, glue sticks, and maybe a couple scrap classroom materials. We sat still at our desks while our materials were passed around.
Rarely, we explored using tempera paint, watercolors, oil pastels, clay, etc. Also, we never went outside for Art or were allowed to move freely around the room. Contributing factors may well have been ease of use, cleanup, and cost for a classroom full of students. The repetition and lack of variety just didn’t hold my interest.
Penguin Art for Preschoolers
Keeping that in mind, we are motivated to encourage at least an appreciation of Art in our children, if not a full-on love affair.
This is a great Art activity for a couple of reasons in particular: demonstrating the versatility of materials we already own and extending our work in our Antarctica unit. We are always finding creative ways to engage with our materials so I thought I’d share a simple extension of our use of our Montessori penguin puzzle.
We are currently implementing 3 activities for 1 puzzle and at different stages of development. The wooden puzzle alone is a great Sensorial experience for our 2.5 year-old son, and it’s a great Language/Geography activity for our almost 4-year-old when combined with 3 part cards. Another option is using it for an Art experience, as our oldest daughter and I did below.
Penguin Art Materials
- Montessori Penguin Puzzle
- Watercolor Pencils
- Watercolor Paper
- Paintbrushes – Flat and Round
- 4oz. Mason Jar with water (not pictured)
Penguin Art Procedure
These watercolor pencils and paper are typically reserved for nature journaling. They live separate from the supplies in our Art space. However, since we aren’t planning any trips to Antarctica right now, this is a great opportunity to bust them out for our continent studies.
For this experience, we each traced each of the puzzle pieces onto the paper, using whatever color floats our boats, and then we colored them in. This is very similar to the tracing work our daughter does with her metal insets, an important pre-writing experience. Also, we talked about the parts of the penguin and their functions.
We then experimented with the water and different size paintbrushes. We observed how they affected the outcome of each piece of the penguin. What effect did big brushes have on big and small pieces? How about small brushes on big and small puzzle pieces?
Sometimes we do artwork side-by-side with our children, and we are not instructing, but rather modeling. They may choose to copy what we do, and sometimes they take their own creative path. This is a great way to entice interest.
Once we finished having fun with the brushes, we set our artwork flat to dry. Finally, we hung it in our Art space. Our daughter enjoyed this experience and she usually retells the story of what we did whenever she sees it.
Integrating Moral Lessons and Science with Penguin Art
Our kids currently enjoy learning about these unique birds. They investigate what they eat, their life cycles, and how they care for their young.
Also, we talk about the penguin’s journey. We talk about how the penguin represents patience and determination. We discuss how important conduct is, especially when no one is looking, as it has significant consequences for their family. This is one of the ways in which we tie in character and morality studies (moral lessons) in our homeschool.
Montessori Penguin Puzzle Art Variation for Young Toddlers
A great variation for our 2.5 year-old son is to model or assist tracing the pieces. Afterwards, he explores in his own unique way. This encourages engagement with the puzzle and an introduction to the matching of the pieces to the artwork.
Extend the Penguin Art Lesson Using Books
Animalium has beautiful images for admiring penguins and other animals. This large book allows kids to explore the animal kingdom through the beautiful artwork of Katie Scott. It also contains information about the classification of animals you'll find useful as your child continues their learning.
The Penguins and Antarctica Magic Tree House Non-Fiction Reader is a must-read. It's written from the perspective of two children, a brother and sister pair, and it's really informative with some black and white sketches included.
Free Ernest Shackleton Expedition Recipe
Don't forget to grab your free kid-friendly Antarctic expedition recipe above. Children can gather ingredients using the ingredient list, gather their equipment using the tools list, and prepare the meal using the step-by-step recipe cards, with assistance as needed. The cards are easy to use, they include pictures, and they encourage confidence and independence in the kitchen.
More Art & Handwriting
Thanks for stopping by!
- See Materials List
- Trace each of the penguin puzzle pieces onto the watercolor paper, using any colors and then color them in.
- Talk about and name the parts of a penguin and their functions. You can start off by telling the child what the parts are. You can follow-up by asking the child to show you a specific part. Finally, with practice the child can tell you the parts of the penguin.
- Experiment with the water and different size paintbrushes. We observed how they affected the outcome of each piece of the penguin. What effect did big brushes have on big and small pieces? How about small brushes on big and small puzzle pieces?
- Practice modeling by doing the artwork alongside the child. No instructions necessary. Answer questions as needed.
- Lay artwork flat to dry.
- Talk about the female penguin's journey and how they represent patience and determination. Tie in character in morality studies as the child shows interest.
- Encourage the child to hang their dried artwork in their favorite location.
- Look at books with penguins to explore further.
Full Lesson and Pictures Found At: https://happyhomeschooladventures.com/montessori-antarctica-unit-study-penguin-puzzle-art/